A double-double from senior forward Josh Nebo propelled Texas A&M to a 56-52 victory over Troy University.
Wednesday’s game was the fourth straight home game for A&M. The Aggies are halfway through their non-conference slate as they have five more games to go before they face Arkansas on Jan. 4. With the Aggies now 3-1 to start the year, their early season success should help them when conference season starts.
However, even with the wins accumulating, the team’s performance was less than desirable for one half of the game. In a closely contested match with Troy, the Aggies’ poor shooting efficiency and sloppy turnovers were the reason they fell behind quickly.
A&M scored only 17 points in the first half converting on only 19 percent (five of 26 shots) from the field. To make matters worse, the Aggies turned the ball over eight times during the first half and were outrebounded 25-22 by the Trojans.
Senior guard Mark French said he felt the team was playing without energy.
“When we started tonight, and even against Gonzaga, we were robotic,” French said.
However, that changed once the second half clock started. The Aggies started the second half on a 15-6 run. That run was led by French and senior guard Wendell Mitchell. French and Mitchell each stole the ball and scored points in transition. Shortly after, the points started to roll in.
French said the cause of the momentum shift was the ability for everyone to play more freely and a renewed trust in everyone.
“At half time, we just let it out,” French said. “If we saw a good shot we made sure we take it. Everyone trusts each other. We just have to make sure we weren’t robotic and execute better.”
The results were evident as French ended the game with 12 points after not scoring in the first half. Forward Josh Nebo scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, and junior guard Jay Jay Chandler scored seven of his 10 points in the second half. Three of them came on free throws in clutch time.
In addition to his career-high 12 points, French added five rebounds and three assists. Nebo not only led the team in points with 14, but he was able to bring down 12 rebounds and blocked a game-high five shots. Leading scorer on the season, Jay Jay Chandler was able to score double-digit points in another game this season as he had 10 against Troy.
While the win was a morale boost for the team, freshman guard Andre Gordon was out with a foot injury and freshman guard Emanuel Miller left the game in the first half with what appeared to be a right ankle injury. A&M head coach Buzz Williams said he doesn’t expect Gordon to return to the court any time soon.
“[Gordon] had an X-ray on Tuesday morning,” Williams said. “We’ll go back to the doctor on Monday after being in the boot to determine what the next step. Then what I know, it’s not good.”
With the news surrounding the talented freshmen, upperclassmen will have to step up as they look to continue their early season success. The Aggies will next take the court against Harvard in the Orlando Invitational on Nov. 28. Tipoff is set for 12:30 p.m.